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Wright, Roosevelt & Kaleetan Slam

Just when we thought the summer was drawing to a close, we managed a fantastic five-peak link-up, netting 6200' elevation gain over 14.5 miles.

  • Sun, Sep 11, 2016
  • Scrambling
  • Successful
  • Road suitable for all vehicles
  • If you take a dip in Chair Peak Lake, watch out for the enormous fish. They were jumping out of the water going after the flies. I wouldn't put it past them to chew on your toes.

Having read a few trip reports, raving about the Roosevelt-Kaleetan traverse recently, three of us decided to give it a go. In the name of leaving no peak unclimbed, we also added Wright, N. Roosevelt and S. Kaleetan to the day's agenda. 

We left the Alpental TH at 7:15  and busted a move to Snow and Gem Lakes, passing a dozen or so casual day hikers on the way. On the east side of Gem Lake, we followed the wooden sign pointing towards the official campsite and followed a well-traveled boot path to the summit of Wright Mountain, arriving at 9:45 a.m.

After a short break for a snack, we took the "adventure route" down the south ridge of Wright to the trail that goes around Gem Lake. If you do this, it is critical to stay on the ridge, because it cliffs out on either side. This route isn't necessarily recommended, but it goes just fine. 

At the notch, where the trail continues to Wildcat Lakes (signed), we continued south and ascended the ridge above Gem Lake. There was a good, but exposed, boot path here. This boot path eventually linked up with the path that most people take when scrambling Roosevelt that heads SW, then W  along the ridge.

At 5300' the boot path stops going up the ridge and heads left across a small scree patch around a rocky cliff. We followed this path to a larger scree field. The Mountaineers route description is a little lacking, so our party of three split. One continued down and around the mountain in search of the "west-trending gully," two of us ascended the scree a couple hundred feet and then climbed over a short, mossy 3d class rock step. The scree/rock route turned out to be the best because it put you nearly at the base of the final scramble. 

Again, the route description was confusing and misleading. Reunited as a group of three, we decided to follow the sketchy, dirty, horrible, no-good, very bad day gully at first (because it was the only "west-trending" thing we could find and there were boots leading up into it). We'd heard the final bit up Roosevelt wasn't all that great, so we tricked ourselves into thinking this must be it. If you see this and are tempted to go up it, don't! Let me repeat...don't! There are boot tracks that go up this. They are wrong! Very wrong!

We backtracked and headed back up to the small basin at 5500' at the top of the scree/rock route mentioned previously. From there, we found a short rock ramp that led up and left to a very steep boot path to the summit. Much easier! 

Two of us lounged on the summit, waving at people on the summit of Kaleetan and having another summit snack, while the third down climbed and traversed over to tag South Roosevelt. ("Why tag three peaks when you can tag four?") We reunited at the 5500' basin and headed down the loose gully toward Chair Peak Lake. This is an excellent swimming lake (private with good, non-mucky rock slabs to sit on after jumping in), but heed the warning above about man-eating fish :-)

From Chair Peak Lake, it was an easy scramble up scree to Melakwa Pass and then up the White Ledges to the summit of Kaleetan. We reached the top around 3:45. Beers at DruBru were calling, so we snapped a picture or two and headed home at 4 p.m. via the "outhouse" route, tagging S. Kaleetan along the way. Another summit!

We reached Melakwa Lake at 5 and enjoyed another swim, before hot-footing it back to the TH. We finished at 7 p.m. on the nose, just under 12 hours.  What a day!


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James Templeton
James Templeton says:
Sep 11, 2016 12:42 PM

On the same day my party of two started to do a Kaleetan-Roosevelt double. We dropped bikes at the Snow Lake Trailhead and then drove down to the Melakwa Lake trailhead. We ascended and descended Kaleetan by the "white ledges" route. At the bottom of the white ledges we looked for the "shortcut" to Chair Peak Lake and traversed at 5800 to ridge above Melakwa Pass. We descended a long loose gully down to Chair Peak Lake - it goes but is not particularly pleasant and probably does not save time either - better to go via Melakwa Pass. We passed Chair Peak Lake on the west side - NOT recommended - the slope is very loose and we released a lots of scary boulder slides - go by the trail on east side of lake. We passed Carry and crew coming down from Roosevelt ascended her descent gully and joined the standard Roosevelt scramble route. This was a great scramble - 10 hours car to bike to car.

Carry Porter
Carry Porter says:
Sep 11, 2016 01:31 PM

I concur re traveling around Chair Peak Lake on the east side. That's how we went, and it was about as stable as a scree slope gets. Not perfect, but not deadly either.

Congrats on your successful trip :-)